Patients, displaced people stuck in Khan Younis' main hospital as Israel pounds Gaza's south

AP , Wednesday 24 Jan 2024

Medics say hundreds of patients and thousands of displaced people were unable to leave the main hospital in Khan Younis because of the fighting Wednesday.

Palestinians gather around the bodies of those who were killed in the Israeli ground offensive and bombardment of Khan Younis, outside a morgue in Rafah, southern Gaza, Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2024. AP


The aid group Doctors Without Borders said its staff was trapped inside Nasser Hospital with some 850 patients and thousands of displaced people because the surrounding roads were inaccessible or too dangerous. Nasser Hospital is one of only two hospitals in southern Gaza that can still treat critically ill patients, the group said. Palestinian Health Ministry also said the hospital had been isolated.

Israel has ordered residents to leave a swath of downtown Khan Younis that includes Nasser and two smaller hospitals as it pushes ahead with its 3-month-old offensive on Gaza. The United Nations humanitarian office said the area was home to 88,000 Palestinians and was hosting another 425,000 displaced by fighting elsewhere.

Thousands of people fled south from Khan Younis on Tuesday toward the town of Rafah. The U.N. says some 1.5 million people — around two-thirds of Gaza's population — are crowded into shelters and tent camps in and around Rafah, which is on the border with Egypt.

Even there, Palestinians have found little safety, with Israel regularly carrying out strikes in and around the town. Palestinian witnesses said that in recent days Israeli soldiers and tanks had pushed into parts of Muwasi, a sandy area along the coast that Israel had declared a safe zone, where tens of thousands of people were living in tents without basic services.

In all, some 1.7 million people have been displaced within Gaza, according to the U.N. refugee agency. Most have fled from the north, where Israel's air and ground offensive has reduced entire neighbourhoods to shelled-out wastelands, raising the question of whether residents will ever be able to return.

At least 210 Palestinians have been killed in the last 24 hours, bringing the total death toll from the war to 25,700, according to Health Ministry. 

Another 386 Palestinians have been wounded over the past day, bringing the total to 63,740 and adding more strain to already overwhelmed hospitals, the ministry said. U.N. officials have expressed fears that even more people could die from the disease, with at least one-quarter of the population facing starvation.


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